The Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism deliberated on Budget Vote 3: Provincial Treasury, in the Schedule to the Western Cape Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill, 2020. The budget vote was supported.
The MEC said Provincial Treasury had to absorb a budget cut of R38.4 million which meant that its total budget went from being R342 million to R306.8 million. Despite the difficult environment, as well as the physical constraints, he believed that Treasury, under the circumstances, had done an outstanding job on not just one adjustment budget but two adjustment budgets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Members questioned a significant amount of money spent on the procurement of a video conferencing facility and prize money awarded to high school learners.
The Chairperson welcomed the Committee and delegation to the meeting. The rules of engagement were explained, after which Members were introduced.
Mr David Maynier, MEC: Finance and Economic Opportunities, in his opening remarks, stated that Provincial Treasury had to absorb a budget cut of R38.4 million which meant that its total budget went from being R342 million to R306.8 million.
Despite the difficult environment, as well as physical constraints, he believed that Treasury, under the circumstances, had done an outstanding job on not just one adjustment budget but two adjustment budgets as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr David Savage, Head of the Western Cape Provincial Treasury, took the Committee through a brief presentation on the adjusted budget vote.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) said the R3.4 million seemed a significant amount for the procurement of the video conferencing facility and wanted to know if it was an additional expenditure or a new one and whether or not it was worth the amount stipulated.
The Chairperson said that on page 46, there had been indications of prize money given to learners for a school essay competition which was approximately R43 000. A breakdown of the information was sought including: how many learners won prizes, what the essay writing competition had been about and for which grades it was for.
More information was sought on the R50 000 which had been awarded to a high school mentioned on page 46 who had performed well in economics, accounting and mathematics.
Mr Savage responded that the two school-related projects fell part of Provincial Treasury’s broader talent management strategy and as such, was a kind of interlinked programme.
Most organisations were shifting away from a single large facility into multiple facilities and as such, one could have multiple events going on simultaneously, which would only help as they moved to a more hybrid working environment approach. The smaller boardrooms would be able to connect both staff working from home and from the office space, connecting them to clients. The amounts given were based on the cost estimates which had been received and related to the SITA procurement system.
The initial facilities would be targeted for a number of smaller board rooms in the Department as well as one critically allocated for the Ministry as the Ministry spent a lot of time in a variety of different meetings to project the image of the Western Cape – whether it was for business, investment, community or even government. The initial target was that the costs should be based on the estimates which they had as part of their shift to a hybrid model of working.
Ms Analiese Pick, Acting Chief Director: Public Finance, responded that the video conferencing had only been a cost estimate done in collaboration with MCI, however, it still needed to go out on a tender process.
Regarding the essay writing competition, it was a competition which has been running for a number of years between Treasury and the Department of Education. As part of the curriculum for grade 11 economics learners, they needed to write an essay and the best were entered into the competition, with the product of the competition for the winner being a bursary to study in the field of economics and accountancy, along with money which was awarded. A breakdown of the different monetary prizes could be supplied to the Committee.
The money donated to the school fell part of a collaboration between the Department of Education and Nedbank and was given to the best performing schools in terms of mathematics and accountancy. The prize amount was R50 000 and fell part of their contribution to the best performing school, whilst also being part of the criteria which had been set by the Department of Education.
Consideration of Vote 3: Provincial Treasury
Mr van der Westhuizen proposed the vote be supported.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) seconded the proposal to support the vote
The Chairperson read the Draft Committee report which stated:
“Report of the Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism on Vote 3: Provincial Treasury, in the Schedule to the Western Cape Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B7-2020], dated 27 November 2020.
The Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism reports that it has concluded its deliberations on Vote 3: Provincial Treasury in the Schedule to the Western Cape Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B7-2020] referred to the Committee in terms of Standing Rule 188, and that it supports the vote referred to it”
The Committee report on Vote 3 was adopted.
The meeting was adjourned
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